Choosing Between Clay And Concrete Roof Tiles

Tile roofs can initially seem like a costly investment, but the great curb appeal they provide, along with durability and resistance to elements such as fire, hail and high winds, make them worthwhile. Roof tiles also have a distinct, attractive look and rich color unmatched by any other roofing material and can give your home a unique, classic feel and increased value.

Traditional roofing tiles are available in clay or concrete and come in varying shapes and colors. As you might suspect, not all tiles are created equal, with concrete tiles made from heating a mixture of sand, cement and water, while clay tiles are made from baking good old molded clay. Here is a useful comparison of clay and concrete tiles to help you decide the best alternative for your roof.

Weight and water absorption

Concrete is naturally heavier than clay, and thus makes for much heavier roofs that need additional reinforcements. Clay roofing is lighter and can be easily installed without the need for adjustments to the existing roof structure.

Clay also has superior water-shedding qualities to concrete, allowing it to absorb less water. This allows clay tiles to stay relatively light and avoid staining and mildew infestation. Concrete tiles absorb more water, which leaves them more prone to staining and mildew. The higher water absorption rate also makes concrete tiles even heavier, putting immense pressure on the roof, which can lead to collapse or damage of supporting structures.

Mildew growth on concrete tiles means the roof will require more maintenance to prevent damage. With clay — especially in ceramic finishes in matte and glazed tiles — water absorption and mildew issues are nearly non-existent, making the roof maintenance-free.

Color retention and aesthetics

Clay is a naturally occurring material that has rich colors, unlike concrete which is man-made and often colored using dyes to mimic the appearance of clay or slate. This gives clay tiles a better aesthetic appeal to their counterpart, as well as the ability to retain their rich, natural color for centuries. In contrast, concrete tiles will usually fade in a couple of decades, requiring repainting.

Clay can be designed to mimic traditional slate or wood shake just like concrete, but the resulting tile will be richer in color and more aesthetic. Clay tiles can also be glazed to add color or texturized for added surface design.


Traditional fired clay doesn't rot or burn or get damaged by the elements, making it one of the most durable roofing materials available. While a well-made concrete tile usually last for several decades, clay tiles can easily last for centuries.

If you have specific questions about which type of roof, whether it be tile or something completely different, will best fit your home, both in function and style, contact a company like Western Roofing.